Tuesday, March 7, 2017

To imitate their maker's face (Wilmer Mills)

  The snowman looks a little worse for wear, 

Melting away from his intended ties, 

However slim, to Man, to me; his hair 

Made from a broken mop, his acorn eyes, 

They cease to imitate their maker’s face. 

Props in a childhood theater of lies,
The poet said. It’s true, we limn our race 

In clay, paint, stone, and word, though each, like ice, 

Forgets the living likenesses we trace, 

As if the arts were nothing but a vice 

Of verisimilitude, analogies 

That don’t ring true then fade to fail us twice.
But if our metaphors and similes 

Are only simulacra we assign, 

Does nature have its similarities 

Apart from how we draw a common line? 

If we were gone, would all our mirrors melt 

To nothing like the snowman’s vain design? 

Dust in the window light where I had knelt 

Appeared to ricochet at random, drifting, 

Darting, lacking a pattern spun or spelt 

From entropy except for how the sifting 

Particles resembled swarms of gnats 

Or microscopic life that’s always shifting.
We don’t need scientists who read the stats 

And call the motion “Brownian” to see 

That correspondences exist in cats 

And rats despite the animosity 

They show each other.
I watch the snowman fade 

To nothing, but what approximated me 

Is similar to how my mind was made, 

Imagined in an image I can know 

Each time I see the “somethings” that have stayed 

With parallels in sand or wood or snow. 

I am most like a snowman in the sun, 

And most alive, when, also melted low, 

I sense affinity and joy, made one, 

With whom I suffer in comparison.

--Wilmer Mills, Snowman Argument, 
(ed. Kathryn Oliver Mills)
Published with permission of the editor.

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